WASHINGTON: A prominent US-based online publication on Tuesday removedCongresspresidentSonia Gandhifrom itsrich list of billionairesafter a storm over how it arrived at the $2 billion wealth it assessed for her. The estimate ranked her as the 12th richest political leader in the world, making her wealthier than the Queen of England.

The journalHuffington Postsaid in an explanatory note that Gandhi was originally included based on a listing on a third party site which was subsequently called into question, but it did not name the third party site. Our editors have been unable to verify the amount, removed the link, and regret any confusion, it said.

The retraction came after supporters and critics of Mrs Gandhi and the Congress Party duked it out online in a vicious exchange that is getting more toxic by the day in the election season. Those politically opposed to the Gandhis and the Congress Party and typically aligned with the BJP and its leader Narendra Modi alleged that the website had removed her name under pressure.

Huffpost editor succumbed to Congress pressure, removed Sonia Gandhis name citing lame apology, read one tweet with the hashtag looteribahu.

There was no reaction from Mrs Gandhi or her office itself to the surprising ranking, which made her wealthier than the Queen of England and a host of other eminence grises. Russias President Vladimir Putin tops the HUffPo rich list with $40 billion , followed by Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej and the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

According to various domestic declarations and assessments, Sonia Gandhi has assets worth Rs 1.38 crore. She neither owns a car nor a house in Indi, but has an ancestral home in Italy worth Rs 18.02 lakh.

In pre-election affidavits, she reportedly declared bank deposits of Rs 28.61 lakh, mutual funds worth Rs 20 lakh, and RBI bonds worth Rs 12 lakh, besides gold and silver jewelry worth about Rs 30 lakh. She paid Rs 5.58 lakh in income tax for the assessment year 2008-09 and Rs 32,000 wealth tax. All this in no way adds up to the $2 billion HuffPo estimated.

But Congress Party officials scoffed at the while exercise. If Huffington Post would stick to huffing and puffing then I think they would do a much better job for themselves. Because if you do put out these absurd and ridiculous things out in print, then you only open yourself to be made a laughing stock. I would not even like to dignify with a response, party spokesman Manish Tewari said.

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